'You do not negotiate with a terrorist'


Alan Raguso didn’t set out to write “The Diabetes Slayer’s Handbook,” with its slant toward medieval weaponry, and all. The Walla Walla author just knew he had been in the battle of his life. For his life.

Diagnosed in 2001 with type 2 diabetes, the verdict came as no surprise for Raguso, who works as a property manager. The disease runs in his family, he said, and all the signs pointed to genetics not in his favor.

For more than a decade, Raguso had watched his weight hover at 350 pounds, putting him in pants with a 52-inch waist and size 3XL shirts. He couldn’t sleep without help of a breathing machine for sleep hypoxia, which lowers the blood oxygen level. His blood sugar counts were routinely scary.

It went from bad to worse, Raguso said. “I was feeling very sick. I had times I was run down and I felt queasy. It felt like my blood pressure was high and I was not well-oriented.”

The classic symptoms of diabetes, which the author refers to as a “terrorist” in his new book.

Raguso did exercise regularly and he credits that for keeping him alive. Nonetheless, the dosage on his diabetes medication kept increasing and he was popping 200 Pepto Bismol tablets a month, he said.

Then came an episode of retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in diabetics. Fortunately for Raguso, it was temporary. This time.

His personal health picture was dark, Raguso recalled. “Everything was going wrong. I was getting sicker and sicker.”

Even after he had dropped a first 100 pounds, he added. “I was still morbidly obese.”

He could roll over and accept his fate, continuing to blame genetics and lack of success with various diets, Raguso said. A strict vegan diet, for example, netted a loss of only two pounds in a year’s span.

Finally he was good and sick of being sick. It was the middle of December three years ago when Raguso “slashed carbs and cut out wheat, gluten and refined soy,” he said.

“The amazing thing is, within 12 hours I never needed anything for my stomach again.”

Today Raguso, 60, weighs 175 pounds. His lean muscle mass is at its highest ratio ever and he takes no diabetes medication. He promotes diabetes education locally, knowing his “before” story could be written by many others, he said. “My point is, don’t overlook anything. If you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, obese, you need to look at all the possibilities.”

His book, Raguso feels, is a sort of grass roots field guide, just one soldier to another in this health war. The weaponry he developed, and outlines in his book, is simple but effective, he said. “Diabetes is a terrorist. You do not negotiate with a terrorist.”

Anyone can take that first step into battle, the author added. “I tell people ‘Don’t worry about the past. Ask where you want to be in the future and do something about it.’”


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